The Man Who Knew What a Word Was Worth
The phrase, “word is bond,” originated as prison gang slang and then became popular through the culture of 1990s hip-hop music. It means that when a person says something, he/she is going to follow through, and is sure to keep the promise made. The Word is truth, and you can stake your life on it. Today, the phrase has been shortened in street vernacular to just “word” which can mean anything from “I agree” to “that’s true” to “sure thing,” depending on its context.
Sadly, it seems like the moral culture of our world aligns more with superficiality and deception rather than honesty and reliability. Lying is the norm, and it’s hard to find individuals who are true to their word. How refreshing in the Scriptures to see examples of individuals whose faith was based solely on the word of the Lord Jesus, Whose Word can never fail.
The centurion in Matthew 8 highlights the attitude and response that God demands. He displayed three honorable traits in his approach: 1) Recognition of His power; 2) Submission to His Authority; 3) Satisfaction at His Word. These are always the necessary means by which a sinner seeking salvation might approach a holy God. What a contrast to the nation of Israel, who, instead of receiving her King on those terms, rejected Him and His Word. The Lord admired this Gentile’s faith, in contrast to a nation who professed righteousness but had no reality. Such are the children of God in any generation; they are always saved by faith in God’s Word.
This miracle is different than the two that flank it in this chapter because there is no physical contact with the sick, but rather healing from afar. Thus, reliance was upon the spoken word, not the physical work. The precious blood of Christ was a one-time payment of eternal value to satisfy God on account of sin’s debt. However, true salvation is appropriated when one rests on what the Word of God says regarding this work of the Son.
The theme of authority is repeated in these chapters as the Lord Jesus demonstrates His power in both the natural and spiritual world. Moreover, we note that He teaches the Scriptures with authority (7:29), speaks with authority as His word is offered to the centurion (8:8-9), and forgives sins with the authority of heaven, much to the marvel and skepticism of the crowd (9:6-8). The centurion knew from experience that a word from high rank is enough to see a task accomplished. Who better to approach for healing than the One Who breathed the very universe into existence with His word?
Many wallow in uncertainty about salvation and often seek assurance and confirmation that salvation has been received. It’s as though Scripture isn’t enough, and some hinge eternal security on supposed feelings, friends, family, or fruits. Yet there is no greater confirmation that a soul can be saved from sin than the Word from God Himself. It was enough to satisfy the Roman centurion who had no part of Israel’s heritage, but had faith far greater. Much like the healing of his servant (8:13), the response of God to a sinner whose approach acknowledges His authority and ability is always immediate faithfulness to save, true to His Word. “Thy Word Is Truth” (John 17:17).